- Take Action! – Actually do it! One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that a lot of organizations fail to realize they’re leaving a lot of low hanging fruit out there by not even trying to do the multilingual SEO, as in many cases the rankings are far less competitive abroad then in US markets, and a really great ROI can be had doing the multilingual SEO, and the same goes for paid Search as well.
- Translate ideas not words- It’s important to keep in mind that when translating your site’s content, marketing and sales material that having really good native speaking translators that has either experience in your industry or has been given access and training on the terminology specific to your industry is very important and helps greatly to have accurate translations that aren’t just technically correct but actually are the words people in that target language are using to find your products and services.
- Country level TDL matching the main target language’s geography. ccTLD are probably the number one most important factor to get right and will make SEO rankings much easier to achieve with the correct ccTLD. Many sites just use folders, or cookies to switch languages on their site, or subdomains, when really they should be using the MySite.TLD domain instead for best SEO results. And don’t forget that in mind that everyone TLD and Location/Languages can overlap, for example French is not just spoken in France, but vast majority are. And if there are language populations in other geographies you’d like to target as well, for example the French sections of Canada etc, then you can also setup “.ca” Canada domains as well.
- In Country hosting- The actually physical local of where your site is hosted has an impact on it’s ability to rank highly.
Using our previous example of a French website ideally you’d have a dedicated IP address that is also in France, so when you do a reverse lookup on the IP address it’s shown as having a geo-location of France and owned by an organization in France.
- Translate the content of your site, this goes without saying, but you’d be surprised at the number of sites that hope to rank in other countries by just have a TLD country domain or local business listing.
- Include the physical addresses and phone number on your site that have the local addresses. Also known as the “NAP” name address phone number is a known combination that the search engines and directories use to match businesses to locations and also rank them higher in local search when they see many citations of this same NAP throughout the web. This will help with relevance and can help you with ranking and driving visitors to any brink and mortar locations as well, and help with local search too.
- Localize your Link building methods, so for example if you’re doing a guess blog campaign to build links for your site, target domains and sites in your target language, but don’t shy away from links from non-target language sites as a link is a link and they all help towards helping with your link graph.
- Domain registration- Make sure to register your domain to an address, and phone number that is in the the same country as the TLD domain and your target location.
- Make sure to get local business listings in Google places, Yahoo and Bing’s local business directory, and also any other local directories with the same exact “NAP” name, address and phone number that matches your site’s contact and footer contact info and domain registration info.
- Make sure to declare your site’s target languge in Google webmaster tools, we’ve found it can really help a lot.
- More then just Google- You may not realize it but in some countries Google is not God and there might be another search engine that is far more popular there, and this will effect your SEO and SEM strategies. For example in Russia Yandex is a popular search engine, and in China Baidu to name a couple.
- There are a number of places to declare language within HTML/XHTML such as
- An important thing to keep in mind is that the language declaration of the site code and or server and the character encoding and the direction of text are separate issues to be addressed. It is important to declare which encoding is being used for your document, but this is a separate issue from declaring language. For example French and English could be encoded with “ISO 8859-1” character encoding, but it wouldn’t work for Arabic, you’d need UTF-8 for that.
- Add the native language to each page of your site’s HTML. For instance, “en” stands for english , “en-CA ” stands for English content in Canada, “Fr_CA” stands for french content in Canada, and “de” stands for Germany.
- If your site contains multiple languages with very similar, or translated content, be sure to implement rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” on all translated pages to tell Google that the content is the same or similar, but meant for a different country, and thus not duplicate. So in the header of the HTML code you’d reference the other versions as such
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es” href=”http://es.example.com/” />
Here’s more about it straight from Google http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=189077
- Meta tag – <meta http-equiv=”Content-Language” content=”en” />
- The attribute line within individual HTML tags lang=”en” good to use when you have multiple languages on a page
<html lang=”en” xml:lang=”en” xmlns= “http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml”>
- HTTP Content-Language header (Server-Side configuration)